5 Reasons Hybrid Learning Works

Learning in school, physically and in real-time, and learning remotely, often independently, both have their advantages and disadvantages.

But what if you could have a system that combines the best of both worlds?

Enter hybrid learning – a system which brings together the best elements of both in-person and online learning to create a learner focused experience.

Under this model, learners participate in both synchronous and asynchronous learning, for both on-site and off-site students.

What this means is, teachers teach the same classes physically and virtually at the same time, and these classes are supplemented by assignments and activities which students can complete on their own time.

Of course, this means that learning is more accessible and in different modalities for more students.

But there are also plenty of other advantages to hybrid learning.

Table of Contents

1. You Can Match Learning to How You Learn Best

2. You Can Work at Your Own Pace by Chunking Your Learning

3. You Can Take More Brain-Friendly Breaks

4. You Can Exercise Frequently to Keep Your Brain in Top Shape

5. You Can Get Better Sleep

5 Reasons Hybrid Learning Works

1. You Can Match Learning to How You Learn Best

5 Reasons Hybrid Learning WorksNot everyone learns the same way – everyone has different preferences in how they learn and retain information best.

For example, visual learners learn best by turning what they read into mental movies in their heads and can quickly process and retain visual information like diagrams and graphs.

Auditory learners prefer listening to information – they can easily recall what they heard during classes and lectures, or through podcasts and audiobooks.

Kinesthetic learners learn best by engaging physically with the environment – they might like pacing around while they learn, acting out what they’re reading, and so on.

In school, though, you can’t always use the learning strategies that work best for you. Even though you might be learning better if the information was auditory, or if you could walk around the classroom reading, you’re expected to sit at your desk and read the text in your book or on the projector screen.

Hybrid learning helps you access the best of both worlds.

For starters, because part of the learning process takes place at home, you get the chance to tailor your learning to your preferred learning style.

Instead of pushing yourself to get through some reading you’re struggling with, you have the option to use a text-to-voice reader to read it out for you, or to pace about your room as you read.

Meanwhile, hybrid learning also gives you the opportunity to develop your visual learning skills, since these skills give you an advantage when it comes to written exams.

This is because your brain is 60,000 times faster at remembering and processing images than it is at remembering text – this is why visual learners often have an advantage in school.

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You might be struggling in some subjects more than others because of the mismatch between how you prefer to learn, and how you’re tested.

But hybrid learning gives you the opportunity to develop the combination of learning style strategies that work best for you.

To find out more about your learning style strengths and the best strategies for you, take the FREE learning styles quiz here.

2. You Can Work at Your Own Pace by Chunking Your Learning

5 Reasons Hybrid Learning WorksIn the ideal hybrid learning model, in-person and real-time virtual classes focus on material that are better covered with direct instruction – for example, experiments and practical demonstrations.

This frees up time for you to go over all the supplementary material at your own pace, instead of being in a classroom with 20 other students moving on a fixed schedule.

This makes learning a lot more personalized to you – you can work based on the pace that best works for you and is more comfortable for you.

One amazing brain-based learning strategy you can use thanks to hybrid learning is chunking your studying.

This refers to breaking your learning tasks down into a series of smaller tasks.

By doing this, you’re activating the reward centers of your brain to keep you motivated.

The neurotransmitter dopamine spikes up in your system when you accomplish something – you know that great, glowing feeling you get when you score well on a test or get a compliment from a professor? That’s dopamine working its magic.

The feeling is so great that your brain wants more of it, and this is what drives you to keep going and work harder to score well on other tests and hope for more compliments from your professors.

An easy and highly effective way of taking advantage of your dopamine activity to stay motivated is to break down what you need to do into a series of smaller tasks.

Every time you complete a task, you experience that sense of reward driving you to complete the next step.

This is a lot more effective than setting yourself a huge task, like completing a time-consuming assignment you have due in a week in one day.

In fact, your dopamine spikes up when it expects a reward – but on the other hand, when it expects a reward and doesn’t accomplish what it expected to accomplish, dopamine levels fall.

So, if you end up setting yourself a big task or a series of big tasks and fail to accomplish your goals, you end up feeling demotivated instead.

A huge benefit of hybrid learning is that, since you don’t have to worry about keeping up with everyone in fixed classroom sessions, you can chunk your learning to your convenience and do a better job at it!

3. You Can Take More Brain-Friendly Breaks

5 Reasons Hybrid Learning WorksThat’s right! Taking more breaks – and not just any breaks, brain-friendly breaks – can make a huge difference to your learning.

Your brain doesn’t learn well for long stretches of time. When you’re focusing on learning something, your brain is using its working memory, which has a limited capacity.

What this means is, after a while, when you go over your working memory’s capacity, you end up not being able to absorb what you’re learning and even lose some of what you already learned.

Have you ever spaced out in the middle of an hour-long class, or started struggling partway through even though you were concentrating in the beginning?

This is because your working memory is over-capacity and isn’t getting the chance to recharge.

But when in-person class sessions are kept to the stuff you mostly need to study in real-time, and you have more flexibility on how you pace the rest of your lessons, you can help keep your working memory in better shape.

The answer is taking breaks – after every 20-25 minutes of learning, just a 5-minute break is enough to recharge your working memory to full capacity.

It gets to wander, and because it isn’t preoccupied with focusing on taking in new information, it starts reviewing what you learned and connecting it with what you already know, creating new ideas or finding solutions to problems out of it. When you take breaks, you also allow your brain to switch into default mode.

Ever wondered why your best ideas happen in the shower or when you’re brushing your teeth? This is why – giving your brain time to soak up what it’s learned is just as important as focusing on learning.

And with study material like pre-recorded lectures and interactive assignments, you get to do just that.

4. You Can Exercise Frequently to Keep Your Brain in Top Shape

5 Reasons Hybrid Learning WorksYou read about brain-friendly breaks in the previous section, and exercising is one of the best brain-friendly ways to use your breaks.

You don’t have to do a full workout – just walking about your room, stretching, or doing a couple of jumping jacks between your 25-minute study sessions is enough to get your brain running smoother.

When you exercise, your blood circulation increases, and it pumps more oxygen and nutrients to your brain.

This lets your brain create connections between its nerve cells or neurons faster, speeding up the rate at which you learn, create and store memory.

Exercise also helps grow parts of your brain involved in learning and memory, like your hippocampus, through a process called neurogenesis.

Meanwhile, being physically active can also boosts your dopamine levels, along with other great chemical messengers like serotonin and endorphins. These work together to keep you motivated, focused, alert and in a great mood!

While you can’t just get up in the middle of class and start running about, hybrid learning gives you the opportunity to not only take more breaks to let your learning stick, but also use these breaks in a brain-friendly way!

5. You Can Get Better Sleep 

5 Reasons Hybrid Learning WorksAnd speaking of brain-friendly breaks – why not take a nap?

Since hybrid learning cuts down the amount of time you have to spend in class in real-time, you get more time to actually get the rest you need to learn at your best.

And this is extremely important because sleep is a critical part of your learning and memory making process!

When you’re in deep, slow-wave sleep, your brain remains active.

Your hippocampus and neocortex go through what you learned and experienced through the day, making sense of it, connecting it to past events and existing knowledge, creating ideas for the future, and storing it all in your long-term memory.

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If you’ve ever crammed for an exam all night and realized that you don’t remember as much as you learned or struggle to perform as well as you could, this is why.

Without sleep, you’re not giving your brain an opportunity to really take all the new information it’s learned and consolidate it into your memory and your broader understanding of what you’re learning.

Plus, when you don’t get enough sleep, your dopamine levels are lower the next morning – meaning you’re showing up to class demotivated, groggy, unable to focus, and generally unprepared to learn.

With hybrid learning, though, and the greater control you have over your time and how to space and chunk your learning, you also get to allot yourself more time to catch the necessary Z’s.

Hybrid learning creates the ideal balance between in-person and independent learning – the result is a learner-focused experience where your learning is personalized to suit your specific needs.

What are your thoughts on hybrid learning? I’d love to hear from you!

pat wymanPat Wyman is the CEO of HowtoLearn.com and an internationally noted brain coach known as America’s Most Trusted Learning Expert.

Pat’s superpower is helping people learn, read and remember everything faster. She has helped over half a million people in schools and corporations such as Microsoft, Intel and Google improve their lives with her learning strategies, learning styles inventory and courses, such as Total Recall Learning™. 

Pat is the best-selling author of more than 15 books, a university instructor, mom and golden retriever lover!

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